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Archives: January 2008

So, I, Um, Don’t Know How to Say This…But I’m Leaving You

Uh oh. You already know something’s up because I’m not writing in the third person, huh? But I assure you, it’s not you (and it’s not we), it’s me. Exactly two years ago today, Steve and I took the UnBeige reins, and as you may know, two years is practically a lifetime in blog-years. I decided that this was as good a time as any to make a change, a decision that was only slightly influenced by the fact that this is the very same night that Lost returns to television (8/7pm Central).

Over the last two years my life has changed in ways that I can’t begin to explain in what I hope will be a short and sweet post. I’ve traveled all over the country, met my heroes, and hopefully, introduced you to a few worthy people and causes along the way. When I started at UnBeige I was terrified by this big scary design world that, frankly, I didn’t know nearly enough about. Now I look over there at that blogroll and I see a list of my dearest friends.

Thanks to the dearest of all those new friends, Steve Delahoyde, and that’s saying a lot since we have still never met in person. Steve is such an effortlessly funny human being–he is the only person in the world I can count on for a solid laugh at 7am–and I will miss being his partner in crime. But I would never have felt comfortable leaving if it wasn’t for one Stephanie Murg, who has leapt into this role with grace and wit. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend Keith Scharwath, who provided me with so much support, advice and good tips that thanking him every time would have made it seem like he was writing this blog instead. Thank you to Jen Bekman and Eva Hagberg, who left gigantic, like, size 12EEE shoes to fill. Huge thanks to both Bryn Mooth and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who recommended me for the gig in the first place. And to Laurel Touby, who has always been a big inspiration to me, but especially when she sold for $23 million freaking dollars.

Finally, thank you to everyone out there who read this over the years, all 15 of you, even though four of you are my immediate family members and read this blog even though you have no idea what I’m talking about. I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing next (although I’m fairly certain you won’t find me anywhere near a computer for the next week or two), but you can always find out what I’m up to at my personal blog, Gelatobaby. And if you want to be kept abreast of my situation, just drop me a line at getthescoop AT I’m sure we’ll meet again.

Love, Alissa

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On the Anniversary of the Lite Brite Bomb Scare, LED Panels Return to Boston, But This Time, the Threat Is Real


Was it only a year ago that deadly Lite Brites stormed Boston, ravaging our national security and shutting down the city for a day? The ensuing madness that followed the invasion of Mooninites was dubbed 1/31, and a very clever group of people have vowed that Boston will never forget.

Make has got the skinny on the fan art plastering Boston today, which hopefully this time officials will not confuse with detonation devices (one helpfully reads “This is not a bomb”). There’s Bush and Bin Laden and also some very clever homages to the masterminds behind the original 1/31, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, who last year gave what was possibly the greatest press conference of all time.

LA’s Broad Contemporary Art Museum Features Mysterious Bulbous Object


We’re counting the days until the opening of LA’s new museum, the Broad Contemporary at LACMA (or BCAM), which officially launches February 16. Actually, lots at LACMA is changing: a new Renzo Piano building, a new logo by 2×4, and new art from the collection of Eli Broad, who just decided he actually doesn’t want to make the Broad Museum the permanent home of the Broad collection. Oh well, the building and logo are nice.

The online countdown is full of teasers, like shots of Chris Burden‘s lamp installation, Richard Serra‘s two sculptures and Robert Irwin‘s palm garden. But this thing confounds us. What in the world could be inside that bizarre, odd-shaped covering? Guess we’ll have to wait until February 16.

FreshPressed and Ready For Success


Even though you feel you may be contributing plenty to society as a designer, you really haven’t done enough until you lend a hand to the uncoordinated left-brained masses who, try as they might, just can’t think of themselves as creative. Into this brave new DIY world enters FreshPressed, a brand new design-and-screenprint it yourself studio in LA. Proprietor Jonathan Sample is a graphic designer who worked at the studio of Margo Chase before setting up his shop on Hollywood Boulevard late last year.

Inspire, empower, imprint is their motto, and there are plenty of ways for people of all abilities to do that. Either supply your own file or draw something there, and they’ll burn a screen of your design, which you can use to print on any of Sample’s goods (or there’s an American Apparel located conveniently across the street). Don’t be trying to place your order online or anything silly like that. “Our primary focus is our community,” says Sample. “Come in, spend some time with us, and leave with your product in hand. Or better yet, on your back!”

It’s true! Friend of UnBeige Lenny Mesina, editor of that Beautiful Losers film we keep yapping about, made this shirt in about 30 minutes start-to-finish, and wore it out to an event that very night. “I gained a level of self-respect while making my self made shirt,” he says. “Creative screenprinting at its simplest.”


The Greening of Fashion Week

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As Barneys’ holiday windows go, so goes the nation. In the wake of the department store’s ‘Have a Green Holiday’ campaign, that fancy PowerPoint show of Al Gore‘s, and, ah yes, centuries of environmental neglect, Fashion Week is getting up to speed on all things green. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for eco-friendly and sustainable touches when things officially kick off tomorrow at Bryant Park, but the green buzz is already in the air.

Tonight at Gotham Hall, EarthPledge will hold its FutureFashion show of 30 looks crafted from natural materials such as organic cotton and vegetable-tanned leather to highlight sustainable apparel manufacturing. Among the designers marshaled to participate by organizers that include Barneys’ fashion merchandising VP Julie Gilhart are Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, and longtime eco-warrior Stella McCartney. And who designed the lovely invitation and graphics for the show? Why, Fabien Baron, of course. Barneys won’t be selling the designs, but they will be showcased in the windows of the Madison Avenue store.

Not to be outdone by title sponsor Mercedes-Benz, Lexus is bringing the green marketing scheme it pushed at the Sundance Film Festival to the fashion crowd. Not only is the company’s Hybrid Living division a sponsor of tonight’s FutureFashion show, it’s also backing Tuesday’s Rodarte show. According to Fashion Week Daily, Rodarte designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy “will demonstrate that refined design need not be forfeited when employing green manufacturing methods.” Plus, those seated in the front row will get a special eco-friendly Rodarte scarf tucked inside a reusable bag made from recycled Lexus billboards.

And it case you missed it over the holidays, go here to watch a Green Holiday-themed video in which Gilhart talks with Barneys creative wizard Simon Doonan, who really deserves his own network talk show.

In Ghosts and Chic Portraits, the Spirit of the Street

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Two exhibitions now up in New York infuse the spirit of the street into unique modes of art and design. First is Y Gallery‘s show by German artist Jim Avignon, whose style we think is best described as Gary Baseman meets John Kricfalusi with a pinch of Yoshitomo Nara (for that umami tang). Curated by Cecilia Jurado, the show is called “i looked in the mirror and i saw a ghost” and features Avignon’s whimsical paintings, furniture, and murals. The work focuses on, well, ghosts, as well as the prospect of living out multiple identities in a fictional world, which the gallery thinks is a good fit for its own diverse home: Jackson Heights, Queens. Also a good fit for the ‘hood is Avignon’s commitment to “democratic art distribution” (translation: all exhibition pieces are priced at under $200 each). The show runs through February 9 at Y Gallery.

sartorialist photo.jpgAnd then there’s The Satorialist (a.k.a. Scott Schuman), a man who needs little introduction to the aesthetically and sartorially astute UnBeige readership. Just in time for Fashion Week, Danziger Projects in Chelsea has mounted a show of Schuman’s sublimely lit and composed photographs of chic people the world over. How does he manage to get the Paris pavement to gleam so cooperatively? Where does he find those ethereal Swedes? How does he manage to convey Milan by nothing but a doorframe and a burnt orange scarf folded just so? And why does New York’s Meatpacking District never look quite so fetching in person? While we didn’t expect to find answers at the Danziger show, we assembled a whole new list of questions once we’d seen the images on paper as opposed to on screen. The show runs through February 23 at Danziger Projects.

Etsy Craftily Raises $27 Million

etsy card.jpgEtsy, the Brooklyn-based online craft/handmade goods marketplace, has just received a $27 million cash infusion. According to a report today from VentureBeat, the funding round was led by Accel Partners, the Silicon Valley- and London-based venture capital firm that has stakes in such companies as Facebook, Brightcove, and Iron Planet (which happens to be an online marketplace for used construction equipment–we smell synergy!). The company’s previous funding totaled $5 million.

Founded in 2005 by Rob Kalin, Etsy now has 50 employees, approximately 650,000 members, and a marketplace with over 120,000 sellers in 127 different countries, according to a note Kalin posted yesterday to the Etsy community. He says that the company will use the $27 million for such expansion initiatives as adding new currency and language capabilities to the site, improving the checkout process, and upgrading the company’s infrastructure. And who knows, perhaps they’ll splurge on some Etsy wares for the office–may we suggest a few dozen “All That Jazzberry” strawberry cupcakes ($6.50 each), some Rocket Man Spaceship Hairpins ($5.00 a pair), or a bunch of Fairy Cake Jellyfish Pocket Mirrors ($6.00 each)?

Meanwhile, Kalin thinks the best way to show people what Etsy is all about is via the children’s book Swimmy, by Leo Leonni, (which we would pay good money to see him read to a roomful of Silicon Valley VCs). Below, a video of Kalin reading Swimmy, complete with a shimmer of Reading Rainbow theme music to set the tone.

Review of the IIT & Hubbard Street Dance Collaboration


Following up on another story from the start of the week, the Chicago Tribune has finally gotten back to us about the biggest “dancing about architecture” story this side of the Great Lakes: a review of the Hubbard Street Dance and Illinois Institute of Technology collaboration in Mies van der Rohe‘s Crown Hall. Turns out, according to the Tribune, it was a nice idea, but one that didn’t land so hot. In the end, the staging was rough, moving the audience was difficult and even the music was received poorly. But hey, it’s not like van der Rohe and Fred Astaire were the best of pals, sharing their ideas together over a gallon of rocky road ice cream (but geez, don’t you sort of want to picture it?). So for a work in progress, what can you do but let it grow? Here’s some from the review about one of sections:

Alejandro Cerrudo‘s work-in-progress, “Extremely Close,” most soundly referenced Crown Hall. White “masts” sloped above the performance area to soften the dancers’ more rigid interaction with moving panels.

The eight dancers hid and appeared while unveiling in motion a blueprint upon which they constructed their own spaces. The piece then moved from clinical to emotional as the dancers (particularly Jamy Meek, Yarden Ronen and Jessica Tong) built a foundation for human relationships.

Confirmed: Rem Koolhaas is Doing, Um, Something at the Hermitage


You might recall, on Tuesday, when we were reporting that Rem Koolhaas is back to working with the Hermitage. But we weren’t quite sure if he was just in talks with them again, as he had been early last year, or if he was actually going to be finally getting into the museum to rearrange some things and give the place a new coat of paint, so to speak. Luckily, we’ve gotten a quick answer, as Bloomberg is now reporting that the starchitect is going to be changing around some of the exhibits to begin with, then moving on from there. Well, again, just “sort of.” The catch in the whole thing is that he’s not allowed to make any changes to the building itself and not allowed to put anything new inside the museum. So you can see what he’s up against, particularly when you read things like this:

Koolhaas said he is counting on close cooperation with Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky, with whom he has “a nice personal engagement, a dialogue, you could say.”

Rem is a talented person with whom it’s interesting to work,” said Piotrovsky. “It’s not necessary to improve things at the Hermitage, because things are already great, but we shouldn’t stay in one place, and we shouldn’t be afraid to experiment.”

This sounds like either the worst job or the best ever, because, from what we’re reading, in the end, Koolhaas could just say, “Well, it took ten million dollars, but I’m finally done,” without ever having touched a thing. And the strange part is, they’d probably love his work. Our heads hurt.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Co. Planning “Project Runway” for the Art World


We either really want this show to come out or we want it to go away, to live in a cave, never to be heard from again. By way of Art Info we found that Variety is reporting on Sarah Jessica Parker‘s production company is teaming with the group behind “Top Chef” and “Top Design“, Magical Elves, to create a show similar to “Project Runway” but about the art world. While we definitely think that the producers wouldn’t have any trouble finding a big batch of eccentric artists to choose from, we’re kind of worried that reducing the concept of “art” down to challenges like sculpting something in an hour that must incorporate monkeys and a Starbucks coffee mug (because they’re sponsoring the episode that night), a little upsetting. Fashion we can get by with, because designers are creating consumer goods, for the most part. With art, there’s the implication of sales, but at the same time, it seems like anything worth looking at should come from somewhere with some thought behind it and have something to say. Granted, that’s not always the case, but sometimes we’re optimists around here. So sue us. Anyway, we’re also a little worried that maybe the production team behind all of this doesn’t really know what they’re talking about:

[Jane Lipsitz] added that art is “something we consume every day…whether it’s your favorite coffee mug, an ad in a magazine or a mural you drive by on the way to work.”

Look at that cactus! That’s pretty art. And that airplane is such a great piece of art! Ooh, art is just everywhere!